Vegas – you can bet on this gem!
Sep11

Vegas – you can bet on this gem!

Next time you’re in Vegas you MUST try The Lotus of Siam. ( http://www.saipinchutima.com) Actually, I would almost do the four hour drive from LA just to go this family-owned restaurant. (With a quick visit to my favorite Goldfish slot machine, of course.) What an experience! Outstanding, authentic, and simply deeelicious Thai Food. (Ranked #27 of 3877 restaurants on Trip Advisor) And reasonably priced, too.       I discovered this hidden gem on Top Chef Masters, when some celeb chef was singing its praises. I thought it would be a fun place to take my brother Neville, and his wife, sweetheart Petra—visiting from South Africa. Can you tell which one’s my brother? (or boet as they say in SA)     Cuz, Dale who lives in Vegas, and her boyf, Will were good sports and braved it too, and happily everyone was impressed.   It’s about a 15 minute car-ride from the Las Vegas Strip in a nondescript strip mall. The lineup of cabs out front is the first sign that the general public have caught on, and if you don’t have a resy you could wait for hours. The walls are covered with magazine articles and Zagat Ratings. The gorgeous wine cellar is another clue that this isn’t your average hole-in-the-wall.   We took our server’s recommendations, and each perfectly balanced dish was interesting, with huge depth of flavor. Here are some of my faves: Crispy Garlic Prawns    Giant garlic prawns. And I’m not talking “shrimp.” These are the real deal: meaty, gorgeous, deep fried with crispy shells that eat like chips. (I don’t usually do fried, but these were definitely worthy.)   Beef Short Ribs  The short ribs are un.bee.lievable. Fork-tender and tasty, with lovely, light, fresh noodles. (I could easily have polished that one off myself!   Crispy Duck Panang Curry I’ve never tasted such succulent and tender duck. The curry sauce didn’t over power, and despite being pan fried it wasn’t too rich. Green Papaya Salad (Healthy Pick)     If you haven’t tried this before, it’s not what you’d expect. I’m not a huge fan of fruit in salads, and this can be misleading because when you think papaya you think sweet fruit, right? But the green, unripe papaya is crispy and fresh—fab way to sneak in some greens. I couldn’t actually find this on the menu, but since it’s something I always order at Thai restaurants (and it was on the server’s top ten) it was a no-brainer. Pad Thai     It was a little embarrassing to order Pad Thai (which you’ll find at any Thai restaurant in the US) at this exotic establishment, but hubby, Sam, had to...

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Two Dinners and a Movie
May12

Two Dinners and a Movie

You MUST see “Chef” by Jon Favreau—now playing in select movie theaters. Not just for foodies; though if you’re passionate about cooking—or eating— you will LOVE every minute of it! And wish you could jump right through the screen and devour every delicious dish… (See below for how you can actually make that happen!)     Filled with positive messages, this heartwarming comedy about a chef who quits his restaurant job to start a food truck, will inspire you to be true to yourself, and be the best you can be—as a writer, parent, artist, or whatever your passion. Most touching was the broken, workaholic chef’s relationship with his soulful young son—played by talented 10-year-old, Emjay Anthony, who had to keep up with improvised lines from Favreau and Leguizamo. The flick cleverly incorporates Twitter, showing how destructive—and influential—social media can be, and how naturally it comes to the youngsters. (I need a “Percy” to promote OrnaBakes!) And you might think twice before posting a nasty review about a restaurant—or movie—on Yelp! I had been dying to see Chef from the minute I saw the trailer, and hubby, Sam—who was not dying to see it—graciously agreed to indulge me. (No pun intended.) But alas, turns out that opening night on Friday, May 9th, was for limited release only, and not playing in our area. So instead of being at the movies, I was in usual my place on the couch, watching charmingly humble Pharrell Williams on Jimmy Kimmell. And then, next up… Jon Favreau promoting the ultimate ode to food! Well, when Sam saw that it co-starred Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and Dustin Hoffman (yes, in that particular order), he was suddenly keen to go with me! (Interesting.) I then discovered on Facebook that Favreau was doing Q&A at the AMC Century City following the movie, the very next night! So… we snatched up the last two decent seats; got Granny on board to babysit, and less that 24 hours later… #bestdatenightever    Orna with Jon Favreau 5:30pm Happy Hour at Pink Taco (Owned by 31-year-old Harry Morton, of Morton’s Steakhouse family. Highly recommend!) 6:30pm Quick visit to the Container Store (sigh, love love love that store) 7:00pm Chef: Movie Tribute to Food 9:30pm Q&A and photo op with Jon Favreau 10:30pm BJ’s Pizza (I told you it was Two Dinners and a Movie…) What more could a girl want on the eve of Mother’s Day?   Q&A with Jon Favreau Hearing writer, director, and star, Jon Favreau speak openly and honestly about the movie—and his creative process—was deeply inspiring, so I wanted to share some of...

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Restaurant Review: Cafe Firenze, Moorpark, CA
Jun21

Restaurant Review: Cafe Firenze, Moorpark, CA

Love Cafe Firenze! Cafe Firenze is one of our favorite restaurants; upscale without being stuffy or snobby, with high quality ingredients and a wonderful, warm atmosphere. When I heard, on Top Chef, that Fan Favorite, Fabio Viviani, had a restaurant in Moorpark—about 30 miles away from where we live—I imagined a little Italian eatery out in the middle of nowhere. I never expected the majestic, gem of a place—hidden in the Albertsons shopping center—surprisingly cosy and charming, even with the large, high-ceilinged rooms, and beautiful, regal decor. The booths, especially, are cosy and intimate. (Though we all agreed we could live without the decorative pillows—pretty, but not practical!) You enjoy the royal, fine-dining treatment—even if you’re there with little ones—without the snobbery of the Los Angeles west side. As musicians, we appreciate the subtle, tasteful, live music by the talented guitar player. (Think Sting or Eric Clapton.) The staff couldn’t be nicer, and are very knowledgeable about the food. You can tell that Fabio really appreciates them (giving credit where credit is due), and they are happily supportive. Left to Right: Adam, Executive Chef John Paolone, and Lindze Our favorite waitress, Christina—she tells it like it is! He certainly couldn’t do it without them—since he’s currently opening two more restaurants in Chicago; following the huge success of Siena Tavern, which opened in February 2013. Our favorite, kid-friendly place for special occasions, we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve at Cafe Firenze, with our three-year-old, Aja.  Valentine’s Day at Cafe Firenze, 2012 Perfect for a date night too; even our picky, jet-setting friends were impressed! Kharen and Randy Bernstein They loved the Chicken Scaloppini and Crostino Di Burrata. Parmesan Bread, Burrata Cheese, Grilled Pancetta, with a Brown Butter Sage sauce. You won’t go wrong with any of the pastas, but you HAVE to try the Braised Short Rib Ravioli. (To die for!) Braised Short Rib Ravioli in a rich and decadent Taleggio Cheese Sauce. Since my new obsession with Caesar Salads, I try them everywhere I go, and this one didn’t disappoint. Next time I’ll try the Ossobuco, before attempting to make it from his fantastic new cookbook Fabio’s Italian Kitchen! Click here for the Cookbook Review and Cooking Demo at Cafe Firenze  >> Click here for the full dinner menu >> What are your favs at Cafe Firenze? I’d love to hear from...

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